Models vs. Reality – which should guide our lives?

“Question everything” – Thomas Jefferson

“The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best – and therefore never scrutinize or question.” – Stephen Jay Gould

“The very foundation of science is to keep the door open to doubt. Precisely because we keep questioning everything, especially our own premises, we are always ready to improve our knowledge. Therefore a good scientist is never ‘certain’. Lack of certainty is precisely what makes conclusions more reliable than the conclusions of those who are certain: because the good scientist will be ready to shift to a different point of view if better elements of evidence, or novel arguments emerge. Therefore certainty is not only something of no use, but is in fact damaging, if we value reliability.” – Carlo Rovelli

“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it.” – H.L. Mencken

“He who gives his freedom for safety gets none of them.” Thomas Jefferson

Any predictive models, by their construction, are a projection based upon known factors, PLUS assumptions. Assumptions, educated, informed or not are no more than educated guesses. Hence, they are for all intents and purposes conjecture. They are essentially the modern rendition of oracles of antiquity. The FACT that these particular models were wildly inaccurate makes them more unreliable predictors. Scientists are not oracles, or prophets. Frankly for me, those who think they are should not be trusted at all.

Even MSN acknowledges models are based upon assumptions – https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/why-the-covid-19-death-forecasts-are-wrong/ar-BB12ZwWB. And, while I disagree with some of the conclusions, Forbes had an excellent article on the models, which affirms the “guessing”/assumptions element – https://www.forbes.com/sites/hershshefrin/2020/04/18/what-makes-the-covid-19-mortality-forecasts-upon-which-the-white-house-relies-seem-so-low/#26bb299c2f70. Yes, they include a “trustworthiness factor” but even that is based upon the assumptions of others. So, it’s assumptions piled on assumptions. Remmember this axiom: ”you know what ASSUME means, right?”

Models aside, the ACTUAL (CDC/John Hopkins) numbers tell us the following:

  • Who is most susceptible (older persons and those with pre-existing conditions weakening their immune systems)
  • Who is most likely to have the worst incidence, if infected
  • Who least susceptible (healthy and younger)
  • What the likelihood of infection is (Sweden and States within the US did not do the same as others and still have solid numbers in relation), with or without draconian mitigation
  • The actual rate of infection per capita (within a range); studies, however, demonstrate this is considerably lower than those who are or have been infected (see below).
  • The actual rate of mortality per capita and per infection (not near what the models forecast)
  • The actual rates of infection and mortality are significantly less than predicted (on an order of magnitude), mitigation measures not withstanding precisely because it was not done in all areas  (more on this below)
  • Less than one percent virility

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ shows the US per capita COVID-19 death rate a 242 per 1,000,000, which is  0.0242%.

COVID-19 Data_050820-1

A study (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340539075_Sampling_Bias_Explaining_Wide_Variations_in_COVID-19_Case_Fatality_Rates) states, “It is thus likely that the IFR will be in the range 0.25% – 0.50%. There is also no room for complacency, as many people are still at risk of dying, even if the IFR is 0.25%, because COVID-19 does seem to be very infectious.”

The actual number of infections that have already occurred in the US have been demonstrated to be considerably higher than those currently tested. The difference is orders of magnitude ranging from as low as 18 times the known infections to 80 times. We will never know the precise number because the vast majority are asymptomatic and/or have had mild symptoms and never. See links embedded below signature line.

From recent reports from NYC, 60%+ of all new patients were individuals who had sheltered in place (the mitigation protocol). https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8293417/66-New-York-coronavirus-hospitalizations-people-staying-HOME.html. Key facts regarding the virus itself from the NYC report:

  • A study of hospitals last week found that of 1,000 patients, 66 percent were people staying at home
  • 73% of the new hospitalizations were people aged 51 and over and 96% had underlying health conditions
  • In New York City, 90% of those who answered said they had not been taking public transport
  • It prompts the question of whether lockdown even works or is necessary

All of this confirms the previous notations.

COVID-19 Data_050820-2

What else we know about the virus itself:

  • Sunshine, particularly the UV bandwidth, kills it.
  • 70% Alcohol, Hydrogen Peroxide and chlorine bleach (diluted 50%) are all effective sanitizing agents that kill the virus
  • We have several treatment protocols that can be safely implemented that arrest the disease’s progression when administered in a timely fashion, under doctor’s supervision.
  • We know the actual number of those who have had the virus or been exposed (based upon at least 3 survey studies)

This does not diminish the harm potential of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2), but the whole of data shows it’s not nearly as bad as projected. Yet look at the ACTUAL per capita rates of infection – tenths of one-percent; mortality rate – hundreths of one-percent!

Complicating the issue is that to rely solely on scientist as the experts presents a host of problems in and of itself – https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/may/9/covid-19-puts-spotlight-science-scientists-often-l/. This wouldn’t be the first time in history. Scientist are human beings, not saints, nor infallible oracles. We should view all information with skepticism. Scientific method is essentially evaluating information to see if it matches with life. I’m not certain clinical studies were ever conducted showing the cobra or rattlesnake bites could likely cause death. It was observed and reported, word-of-mouth. Eventually the neuro-toxins were studied to find out the how and why, but no one needed a scientist to tell them either variety of snake could kill them.

More information can be found here:

Our nation’s general current approach may in fact be costing far more lives than the virus itself would –

    • For example, New York State enacted one of the strictest lockdowns in the U.S. but has 22 times the death rate of Florida, which had one of the mildest lockdowns.

Draconian lockdowns do not conclusively improve per capita infection and/or death rates:

    • The Imperial College—whose cataclysmic projections of Covid-19 deaths have been a driving force behind government lockdowns—has acknowledged that “the more successful a strategy is at temporary suppression, the larger the later epidemic is predicted to be in the absence of vaccination, due to lesser build-up of herd immunity.” (pg. 11) This acknowledgement should really disturb anyone.
    • A 2012 paper in the journal PLoS One titled “Immunity in Society” notes that “when a sufficiently high proportion of individuals within a population becomes immune (either through prior exposure or through mass vaccination), community or ‘herd’ immunity emerges, whereby individuals that are poorly immunized are protected by the collective ‘immune firewall’ provided by immunized neighbors.”
    • Large portions of people are highly resistant to Covid-19 and experience no symptoms when they catch it, later making them firewalls against the spread of the disease. For example, the New England Journal of Medicine reported in mid-April that universal Covid-19 testing of pregnant women at two New York City hospitals found that 88% of the women who tested positive for the disease were asymptomatic.
    • U.S. states with strict lockdowns—like New Jersey and New York—have Covid-19 death rates that are three to five times that of Sweden’s:

Evidence demonstrates the “shelter-in-place” measures are not nearly as effective as being portrayed. Worse, doing so could end up making matters worse due to delaying “herd immunity”. A vaccine may or may not be discovered; there are many coronavirus for which there is no vaccine. So to say we must wait for a vaccine to open society again, is utterly unreasonable, and equally irrational.

Finally,  the world I was raised in taught me something most never learn – that living in fear of what might happen isn’t living. None of us are guaranteed anything, much less the next day or our next breath. I choose not to dwell on what may or may not occur. I’m not foolish or reckless, but I am rational in accumulating and digesting information. I am ever skeptical but not cynical. I look for and weigh facts, discard or dismiss assumptions for what they are, not what I want them to be.

The FACTS do not justify how our nation has responded in shutting down the livelihoods of the majority of the country. This will end up causing far more harm than the disease itself ever could have.

Reasonable and informed caution, I’m all for that; irrational fear that subverts yours and mine essential and unalienable rights, supported by unsupported conjecture – not in the least. Start jailing individuals trying to feed their families, taking reasonable precautions simple because they defy a decree, we’ve gone way too far. When mayors and governors threaten citizens, or suggest neighbors be rewarded for “snitching” on their neighbors who violate these “stay indoors” orders, we’ve gone too far. When law enforcement start using drones to ensure absolute compliance to these edicts, we’ve gone too far. When one person within a jurisdiction declares some to be “essential” and other “non-essential”, how far removed from that are the pronouncements of Mao, Stalin and Hitler about some segments of their respective societies?  Who is reasonable and who is not in light of the FACTS and not supposition?

————– more ———

Studies showing higher infection rates (which equates to a much lower per capita infection rate and per capita death rate) Links are within.

At least six US studies show the coronavirus is more widespread than expected and that millions and millions of Americans have been infected by the Wuhan virus already without knowing they had the virus.

Two new studies were released earlier this week that show millions of Americans were infected with the coronavirus between March and April 21.

The studies also reveal the mortality rate is much less that was reported and similar to seasonal flu.

This also shows that the experts who are behind the draconian lockdowns have been wrong from the beginning.

The first study by Dr. Justin Silverman estimates that there were 8.7 million coronavirus infections between March 8 and March 28.

And as of April 17, 2020, 10% of the US population has been infected or around 33 million Americans.

A second study by Fivetran estimates that from March 1 and April 4th 12 million Americans were infected with the coronavirus.

A third study finds that 25% of residents at homeless shelters tested positive for the virus.
And 66% of those residents tested at San Francisco homeless facilities tested positive for the coronavirus!

A fourth study from last week in Santa Clara County in California revealed that 2.5% to 4.2% of people tested for COVID-19 were positive for antibodies.

A fifth study in Boston found that 46 people in a homeless shelter tested positive and all of them were asymptomatic.

And now a sixth study in Miami-Dade County in Florida found that at least 6% of the population tested positive for the coronavirus antibodies suggesting the number of infected could be 16 times higher than previously reported.

The Washington Examiner reported:

A random sampling study shows that at least 6% of the population in Miami, Florida, have coronavirus antibodies, indicating past infection.

165,000 residents of Miami-Dade County tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, suggesting the rate of people infected could be more than 16 times higher than previously thought, according to a study released by University of Miami researchers on Friday.

The study, set into motion by local officials, will be an ongoing weekly survey randomly selecting residents who volunteer to submit pinpricks of blood to show whether they were positive in the past. Friday’s results were based off two weeks of countywide testing of about 1,400 participants, and researchers found that about half of those who tested positive did not report symptoms in the previous 14-17 days, according to the Miami Herald.

“What we’re finding out is something we’ve frankly known all along. There are a lot of asymptomatic cases out there where people are carrying the virus but are not experiencing any symptoms,” Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a press conference.

Antibody studies across the globe are reporting similar findings.

A high school in France this week determined that 25% of students and staff possessed coronavirus antibodies requiring nine hospitalizations but zero deaths.

random sampling test conducted by Stanford researchers in Santa Clara County, California, concluded that the coronavirus is 50-85 times

Great Moments in Busy-Body Regulation

I wrote back in 2011 about a bizarre plan in California to regulate babysitting.

You may be thinking that’s no big deal because California is…wellCalifornia.

But other governments also want to control private child care decisions. The latest example is from the District of Columbia, which is going after children’s play groups.

Lenore Skenazy explains the craziness in a column for Reason.

For 45 years, parents have brought their two-year-olds to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation as part of a cooperative play school endeavor. It’s a chance to socialize with other haggard moms and (presumably some) dads dealing with the terrible twos, and it’s volunteer run. …The problem—which isn’t actually a problem, unless you define it as such—is that because the play group has some rules and requirements, including the fact that parents must submit emergency contact forms, as well as tell the group when their kid is sick, the play group is not a play group but a “child development facility.” And child development facilities are subject to regulation and licensing by the government. As Lips points out, this actually creates an incentive for parent-run play groups to be less safe, because if they don’t have rules about emergency contact info, and how to evacuate and such, they are considered officially “informal” and can go on their merry, possibly slipshod, way… Take a step back and you see a group of people—toddlers and parents—enjoying themselves. They’re meeting, playing, and perfectly content. But another group is trying to butt in and end the fun—and the convenience.

And what is that “annoying group”? It’s the bureaucrats who issued the play group a “statement of deficiencies.”

The Wall Street Journal also opined on the issue.

The District of Columbia is literally targeting preschool play dates, claiming that parents need city approval before they can baby-sit their friends’ toddlers. Since the 1970s, parents have organized play dates at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on East Capitol Street. They formed a nonprofit to pay for the rent, insurance, snacks and Play-Doh, and each family chips in about $200 a year to cover expenses. …The fun and games ended Sept. 7 when gumshoes from the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education showed up. They claimed the Capitol Hill Cooperative Play School counts as a day care center and is operating unlawfully. If the bureaucrats get their way, the co-op would have to hire a director with a background in childhood education or development, apply and pay for a license, obtain permits and abide by all other day-care regulations.

And you won’t be surprised to learn that day-care regulations in DC are ridiculously expensive and misguided.

Anyhow, the WSJ also observes that the play school could evade red tape by being less-well organized. Heckuva set of incentives!

…the day-care police claim the Capitol Hill Cooperative Play School is “formal” because it has a website, draws participants from a hat to limit play-date sizes, and hosts scheduled get-togethers. In other words, the parents aren’t organized enough for the government’s satisfaction but are too organized to escape its harassment. …State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang is pushing for more government control over the play dates. She wants mandatory emergency drills, sign-out sheets, CPR and first-aid certification for parent volunteers, limits on the frequency and number of hours co-ops can meet, among other requirements. Nannying the nannies will make life tougher on parents—who have a greater interest than the D.C. government does in ensuring their kids are in good hands.

The final sentence of that excerpt is key.

Parents aren’t perfect, but they have a far greater stake in making right decisions than a bunch of busy-body bureaucrats looking to expand their power.

P.S. This is one of the reasons I support school choice (and also object to throwing more money into government schools). Parents are far more likely to do right for their kids than faraway self-interested bureaucrats.

P.P.S. The bureaucratic version of the keystone cops would include the play-group police in addition to the milk police and the bagpipe police.

Re-posted with permission.

From Cafe Hayek – Quotation of the Day…

Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on November 19, 2018

in Reality Is Not Optional, Regulation, Virginia Political Economy

… is from page 87 of my colleague Richard Wagner’s superb 2017 intellectual biography of Jim Buchanan, James M. Buchanan and Liberal Political Economy:

There can be many reasons why someone might think some modicum of force might be necessary to maintain good civil order. It is impossible, however, to guarantee that force will be limited to maintaining good civil order. Force will be deployed as its holders choose to deploy it. This is a basic, irremediable quality of human nature.

DBx: Without question, the most common serious error committed by those who look to the state to ‘solve’ problems (whether real or imaginary) is their assumption that the power they call upon will be used as they wish it to be used and never, or seldom, as they wish it not to be used.

Those who call on the state today are, with one significant difference, very much like people who pray to god to intervene in human affairs: god – being all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good – will answer worthwhile prayers precisely as the petitioners plead while never, ever abusing the godly power. The difference is that, unlike with god, there is absolutely no question of the state’s existence. No one doubts, or can possibly doubt, that the state exists and intervenes in human affairs.

And as I think about the matter, I see another difference: also unlike god, the state rarely acts in mysterious ways. A sound understanding of state action begins with public-choice scholarship.

*Re-posted with permission.

Building Resilience: 5 Ways to a Better Life

Thanksgiving: Its History & Origin as an American Holiday

Restoring America’s Assimilation Apparatus

There Is No ‘Surge’ in White Supremacy

In answer to “Why I’m No Longer a Russiagate Skeptic”

(https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/07/20/confession-of-a-no-longer-russiagate-skeptic-219022) by Blake Hounsell, Politico, July 20, 2018

I can appreciate that many disagree with the President for their reasons. Admittedly, he is many ways a bull-in-a-china-closet iconoclast.

None the less, the article cited is rife with factual inaccuracies that matter. Then again, it’s an opinion piece. As New York Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed — “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Too many put a focus on words and not actions. I fully admit the current President’s verbal predilections tend to exacerbate things rather than move them forward. More often than not it’s how he says it and not the actual substance that give his political opponents fodder.

The key premise (though other items are listed; items upheld by biased speculation, wholly lacking what would qualify as in law as evidence) appears to be the current Administration’s actions his administration have taken that are “tough on Russia” are not credible.

Blake says Trump opposed both the idea of  arming Ukraine and bristled at Congress’ Russian sanctions. He cites the tepid presser (which I don’t think it not served the President well) as proof of collusion, or cooperation at least with Putin and Russia.

Here’s what the Trump Administration as actually done regarding Russia. Actions versus words.

Re-institution of the European missile defenses:

Provided arms to Ukraine, specifically to aid it’s efforts to defend itself against Russia.

Sanctions:

I would agree on the surface without looking at the whole picture, one might be able to think Trump is being soft on Russia. To do so one has to turn a blind eye to what he is actually doing. Regardless of what he has actually done, versus the speculation of what he may have done because of how he expressed himself, will never assuage those who oppose the President.

The President’s and his overall Administration’s actions, sometimes in spite of his words, provide a better assessment of his position, precisely because actions taken are what actually occurs and affects us. Actions are not in the realm of speculation, supposition, theory or opinion, unlike so much of what is propagated as news these days.

As the old adage says: actions speak louder than words.

To preclude the anticipated citing of the various indictments, particularly the last two announcements, not one single indictment cites collusion by the President. Not one. Read them for your self. Plenty of speculation by many. A plethora of innuendo. No facts, otherwise the indictments would state such.

2) Rosenstein’s announcement was reviewed and approved for release by the President PRIOR to his European trip.

3) Rosenstein’s own words, ….”there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”

(https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/02/16/watch_live_deputy_ag_rod_rosenstein_announcement.html)

4) The previous Mueller indictment disclosed much the same:

  • The Mueller indictment of 13 Russians seems to clear the Trump team of collusion, at least in this part of the case.
  • But the most important part of the indictment is the fact that it says the Russian efforts had no effect on the election.
  • That’s a major shot in the arm for American voters, who have proven able to resist foreign meddling.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/16/mueller-indictment-proves-american-voters-are-too-smart-for-russia-commentary.html

5) Russia meddling does not require Trump’s cooperation. As more actual EVIDENCE has come out, especially the background documents thanks in part to the various investigations, reports and the FOIA lawsuits to force transparency on the various agencies, the more it supports President Trump’s insistence he did not collude.

Parallel to “actions speak louder than words”, evidence, not speculation especially when bolstered by prejudice/preference is what matters. If ever evidence show there was collusion, the consequences are obvious. Thus far however, not one single shred, not even a “smidgeon” of evidence has been presented. All hat and no cattle.

We’re harming ourselves with such myopic obsession, when little more than biased speculation supports it. Some might call that delusion. Either way, none of this is helping us be a better nation, much less better and more respectful neighbors with one another.

Related: Just How Far Will the Left Go – Victor Davis Hansen

Thomas Sowell: Social Justice Philosophy Is a Blank Check for Government Power

Forcing an equality of outcome for disadvantaged groups requires enormous outside interference.

“In politics, the great non-sequitur of our time is that 1) things are not right and that 2) the government should make them right. Where right all too often means cosmic justice, trying to set things right means writing a blank check for a never-ending expansion of government power.”

This key passage from Thomas Sowell’s 1999 book, The Quest for Cosmic Justice, frames Sowell’s thoughtful analysis and rejection of arguments advanced by “social justice warriors,” or more briefly, SJWs.

Although written nearly 20 years ago, Sowell’s insights are especially relevant today, when you consider the heights of influence social justice activism has reached—especially on college campuses—in 2018.

For a blueprint to understand and refute today’s increasingly vocal SJWs, Sowell’s book proves to be an indispensable resource.

What Is “Social Justice”?

First, Sowell provides clarity to the concept of social justice, which he labels “cosmic justice.” Social justice seeks to “eliminate undeserved disadvantages” for selected groups. Sowell explains “undeserved disadvantages” by quoting Thomas Nagle, a professor of philosophy and law, as akin to an “unequal starting point” certain people have through no fault of their own.

For the social justice warrior, equality of treatment under the law is not a sufficient condition to achieve justice.

These conditions—be it race, gender, family income, etc.—are from mere chance of birth. Sowell prefers the term “cosmic” to represent a random factor—beyond anyone’s control—landing different groups in different conditions.

But given we can’t change the conditions we are born into, nor erase past injustices, the real concern boils down to what actions and policies are prescribed to mitigate these “unequal starting points” that people occupy.

For the social justice warrior, equality of treatment under the law is not a sufficient condition to achieve justice. Citing philosopher John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, Sowell asserts that SJWs insist “having everyone play by the same rules or be judged by the same standards” is found to be lacking. True equality of opportunity, in their view, means “providing everyone with equal prospects of success from equal individual efforts,” and “putting segments of society in the position that they would have been in but for some undeserved misfortune.”

What Do Social Justice Warriors Want?

To make this a reality, processes need to be put in place, according to social justice theory, so that outcomes—such as income level, unemployment rates, leadership positions, etc.—are equalized regardless of one’s starting point or demographic trait. Any deviation from “equalized” outcomes is proof positive in the eyes of the social justice movement that some form of social injustice—be it racism, sexism, or capitalist greed—must be the culprit.

The quest for social justice “focuses on one segment of the population and disregards the interests of others.”

Sowell takes issue with such thinking. He believes it is the actions and policies in search of equal outcomes, along with their results, that need to be judged by an ethical evaluation of justice.

At this point, Sowell begins to expose the injustices involved in this process. “This conception of fairness requires that third parties must wield the power to control outcomes, over-riding rules, standards or the preferences of other people.”

Indeed, the quest for social justice “focuses on one segment of the population and disregards the interests of others who are not the immediate focus of discussion, but who nevertheless pay the price of the decisions made.” Such processes, it turns out, necessarily involve treating people unequally.

But at What Cost?

In classic Sowell style, he reminds readers that there are no perfect solutions, only trade-offs. Trade-offs involve costs as well as benefits.

“Costs of achieving justice matter…What, after all, is injustice but an arbitrary imposition of a cost—whether economic, psychic, or other—on an innocent person? And if correcting this injustice imposes another arbitrary cost on another innocent person, is that not also an injustice?”

These costs of attempting to advance social justice are not only borne by these innocent third parties, but also by society through changes in behavior of the supposed beneficiaries.

“Those given legal entitlements to various compensatory benefits have, for example, developed a sense of entitlement,” Sowell explains. Entitlement sows seeds of division among the givers and takers while blunting the recipients’ incentives to work. The productive are punished to serve the non-productive.

Promoting a vision of social injustices can also create a sense of helplessness among those labeled as “victims” of cosmic injustices. “Why study and discipline yourself in preparation for the adult world if the deck is completely stacked against you anyway?” Sowell asks rhetorically.

According to Sowell, aside from evaluating the costs involved, the key question in addressing the “unequal starting points” of different groups involves deciding between either political actions or voluntary individual cooperation.

With his typical precision, Sowell favors the latter.

“One of the crucial differences between political and non-political ways of dealing with undeserved misfortunes is that the non-political approaches do not acquire the fatal rigidities of law nor require either the vision or the reality of helplessness and dependency. Nor does it require the demonization of those who think otherwise or the polarization of society.”

A Misdiagnosis

Problems abound even with how SJWs diagnose current hot-button issues like income inequality and racism.

For example, Sowell contends most income statistics are crude aggregates. The implicit assumption that the mere existence of income disparities is evidence of racial discrimination is unsubstantiated. Simply examining the average age differences among different demographics can explain away a portion of the income inequality that SJWs proclaim exists due to discrimination. Adding factors like education level and personal career choices explains much of the rest.

The real issue, Sowell concludes, is not with income inequality itself, but with the processes put in motion in hopes of eliminating inequality.

“To allow any governmental authority to determine how much money individuals shall be permitted to receive from other individuals produces not only a distortion of the economic processes by undermining incentives for efficiency, it is more fundamentally a monumental concentration of political power which reduces everyone to the level of a client of politicians.”

Moreover, the culture of envy created by income inequality obsessions can harm the very groups SJWs purport to want to help. Attributing the “greater prosperity of others to ‘exploitation’ of people like themselves, to oppression, bias or unworthy motives such as greed, racisms and the like,” makes those people feel that self-improvement is “futile” and paints “the less fortunate into their own little corner, isolated from potential sources of greater prosperity.”

How Can You Be a Hero if No One Needs Saving?

Finally, Sowell holds no quarter regarding the motives of the self-anointed saviors of the downtrodden. As if anticipating by two decades the rampant “virtue signaling” consuming left-wing social media accounts, he writes,

“Like so much that is done in the quest for cosmic justice, it makes observers feel better about themselves—and provides no incentives for those observers to scrutinize the consequences of their actions on the ostensible beneficiaries.”

Social justice warriors too often value ego gratification over actual benefits. Sowell continues, pointing out that those invested in the social justice narrative create for themselves a “vested interest in the incapacity of other people,” while developing a “tendency to see people as helpless and not responsible for their own actions.”

All the better to gratify their own egos as self-styled “rescuers” of the purported helpless victims. Such attitudes, however, produce policies that fail to generate desirable results, while instilling a defeatist mindset among those being labeled victims, inducing them “to accept that image of themselves.”

“This is only one of the ways in which the vision of morally anointed visionaries’ ministers to the egos of the anointed, rather than the well-being of the ostensible beneficiaries of their efforts,” Sowell concludes.

The author finds that the corrective “solutions” for perceived social injustices involve costs that most often will outstrip any benefits, and invariably create real injustices at the hands of centralizing government power. Such insights explain why The Quest for Cosmic Justice is a valuable tool for understanding the social justice movement and how to confront its arguments.

Republished with Permission – Source: FEE.org – Social Justice = Big Gov

The 2nd Amendment Really Is an Essential Safeguard against Crime and Tyranny

How many people might be saved if they had the means to protect themselves with a firearm?

For millions of Americans, the Second Amendment and its guarantee of the right of the individual to bear arms appears irrelevant and practically anachronistic. It seems a throwback to those earlier days of the Wild West, when many men, far from the law and order provided by the town sheriff and circuit judge, had to protect their families and land from cattle rustlers and outlaw bands. Such people are wrong.

If in our contemporary world, where the law fails to do its job of seeing that the guilty pay for their crimes, we take solace in the fantasy of extralegal solutions. We imagine that somewhere there is a Clint Eastwood on a metropolitan police force who uses some “magnum force” to see to it that the perpetrator of a crime doesn’t go unpunished. Or we want to think that there is a Charles Bronson occasionally roaming the streets of a large city at night fulfilling the “death wish” of the street criminal whom local law enforcement is not able to punish.

This popular conception of the legal system suffers from two fundamental flaws.

The crime once having been committed, it is some breakdown in the judicial system that prevents justice from being served. If only the law didn’t coddle the criminal or allow his defense attorney to use “loopholes” in the law, no criminal would ever escape his just deserts.

This popular conception of the legal system, law enforcement, and government, however, suffers from two fundamental flaws: first, it focuses on the legal process (and any supposed weaknesses in it) only after a crime has been committed; and second, it ignores completely the fact that it might be the government itself that is the potential perpetrator of crimes against the American citizenry.

The Tragedy of the Unarmed Victim

Locks, bars on windows, and alarm systems are all useful devices to prevent unwanted intruders from gaining entrance into our homes and places of work. But what happens if an innocent victim is confronted with an invader who succeeds in entering his home, for example, and the safety of his family and possessions is now threatened? What if the invader confronts these innocent occupants and threatens some form of violence, including life-threatening force? What are the victims to do?

Critics of the Second Amendment and private gun ownership never seem to have any reasonable answer. Silent prayer might be suggested, but if this were to be a formal recommendation by the government it might run the risk of violating the separation of church and state.

Even in an era promoting equality among the sexes, it nonetheless remains a fact that on average an adult man tends to be physically stronger than an adult woman, and most especially if there is more than one man confronting a single woman.

Several years ago, economist Morgan Reynolds wrote a book on the economics of crime. The following is from one of the criminal cases he discussed. It seems that four men broke into a house in Washington, D.C., looking for a man named “Slim.” When the occupant said that he didn’t know where Slim was, they decided to kill him instead. One of the defendants later testified,

I got a butcher knife out of the kitchen. We tied him up and led him to the bathroom. And we all stabbed him good. Then, as we started to leave, I heard somebody at the door. Lois [the dead man’s girlfriend] came in…. We took her back to the bathroom and showed her his body. She started to beg, ‘don’t kill me, I ain’t gonna tell nobody. Just don’t kill me.’ said we all could have sex with her if we wouldn’t kill her. After we finished with her, Jack Bumps told her, ‘I ain’t takin’ no chances. I’m gonna kill you anyway.’ He put a pillow over her head, and we stabbed her till she stopped wiggling. Then we set fire to the sheets in the bedroom and went out to buy us some liquor.”

Would either of these two victims have been saved if the man had had a gun easily reachable by him in the house or if the woman had had a gun in her purse? There is no way of knowing. What is for certain is that neither was any match for the four men who attacked and killed them with a butcher knife. Even Lois’s begging and submitting to sexual violation did not save her. How many people might be saved from physical harm, psychological trauma, or death if they had the means to protect themselves with a firearm?

Equally important, how many people might never have to be confronted with attack or murder if potential perpetrators were warded off from initiating violence because of the uncertainty that an intended victim might have the means to defend him- or herself from thieves, rapists, and murders? A gun can be a great equalizer for the weak and the defenseless, especially if an intended victim doesn’t have to waste precious seconds fumbling with the key to a mandatory trigger lock.

Tens of millions of people were murdered by governments in the twentieth century.

But what is an ordinary man to do when he finds that it is the government that is the perpetrator of violence and aggression against him and his fellow citizens? How do you resist the power of the state? Tens of millions of people were murdered by governments in the twentieth century. They were killed because of the language they spoke or the religion they practiced. Or because those in political control classified them as belonging to an “inferior race” or to a “social class” that marked them as an “enemy of the people.” Furthermore, the vast, vast majority of these tens of millions of victims were murdered while offering little or no resistance. Fear, terror, and a sense of complete powerlessness surely have been behind the ability of governments to treat their victims as unresisting lambs brought to the slaughter.

But part of the ability of government to commit these cruel and evil acts has been the inability of the victims to resist because they lacked arms for self-defense. However, when the intended victims have had even limited access to means of self-defense it has shocked governments and made them pay a price to continue with their brutal work.

The Power of Armed Resistance

Many have been surprised by the lack of resistance by the European Jews who were killed by the millions in the Nazi concentration and death camps during the Second World War. For the most part, with a seemingly peculiar fatalism, they calmly went to their deaths with bullets to the back of the head or in gas chambers. Yet when some of the people were able to gain access to weapons, they did resist, even when they knew the end was most likely be the same.

The following is from historian John Toland’s biography of “Adolf Hitler,” in reference to the resistance of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943:

Of the 380,000 Jews crowded into the Warsaw ghetto, all but 70,000 had been deported to the killing centers in an operation devoid of resistance. By this time, however, those left behind had come to the realization that deportation meant death. With this in mind, Jewish political parties within the ghetto finally resolved their differences and banded together to resist further shipments with force . . .

“At three in the morning of April 9, 1943, more than 2000 Waffen SS infantryman—accompanied by tanks, flame throwers and dynamite squads—invaded the ghetto, expecting an easy conquest, only to be met by determined fire from 1500 fighters armed with weapons smuggled into the ghetto over a long period: several light machine guns, hand grenades, a hundred or so rifles and carbines, several hundred pistols and revolvers, and Molotov cocktails. Himmler had expected the action to take three days but by nightfall his forces had to withdraw.

“The one-sided battle continued day after day to the bewilderment of the SS commander, General Jürgen Stroop, who could not understand why ‘this trash and subhumanity’ refused to abandon a hopeless cause. He reported that, although his men had initially captured ‘considerable numbers of Jews, who are cowards by nature,’ it was becoming more and more difficult. ‘Over and over again new battle groups consisting of twenty or thirty Jewish men, accompanied by a corresponding number of women, kindled new resistance.’ The women, he noted, had the disconcerting habit of suddenly hurling grenades they had hidden in their bloomers . . .

“The Jews, he reported, remained in the burning buildings until the last possible moment before jumping from the upper stories to the street. ‘With their bones broken, they still tried to crawl across the street into buildings that had not yet been set on fire…. Despite the danger of being burned alive the Jews and bandits often preferred to return into the flames rather than risk being caught by us.’ … For exactly four weeks the little Jewish army had held off superior, well-armed forces until almost the last man was killed or wounded.”

In the end, the Germans had to commit thousands of military personnel and in fact destroy an entire part of Warsaw to bring the Jewish ghetto resistance to an end.

What if not only the Jewish population but the majority of all the “undesirable” individuals and groups in Germany and the occupied countries of Europe had been armed, with the Nazi government unable to know who had weapons, what types, and with what quantity of ammunition? It would be an interesting study in World War II history to compare private gun ownership in various parts of Europe and the degree and intensity of resistance by the local people to German occupation.

Revolts Against Tyranny

In the early years of the Bolshevik takeover in Russia, there were numerous revolts by the peasantry against Communist policies to collectivize the land or seize their crops as in-kind taxes. What made this resistance possible for many years was the fact that in the countryside the vast majority of the rural population owned and knew how to use hunting rifles and other weapons of various kinds.

Acquisition of firearms during the Second World War as part of the partisan movement against the German invasion of the Soviet Union enabled active, armed resistance by Lithuanian and Ukrainian nationalist guerrillas against Soviet reoccupation of their countries to continue in the forests of Lithuania and western Ukraine well into the early 1950s.

It is hard to imagine how the people of the 13 colonies could have ever obtained their independence from Great Britain at the end of the eighteenth century if the local population had not been “armed and dangerous.” It is worth recalling Patrick Henry’s words in arguing for resistance against British control before the king’s armed forces could disarm the colonists:

They tell us . . . that we are weak—unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? . . . Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? … Three million people, armed in the holy cause of liberty . . . are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.”

The taking up of arms is a last resort, not a first, against the intrusions and oppressions of government. Once started, revolutions and rebellions can have consequences no one can foretell, and final outcomes are sometimes worse than the grievance against which resistance was first offered. However, there are times, “in the course of human events,” when men must risk the final measure to preserve or restore the liberty that government threatens or has taken away.

The likelihood that government will feel secure in undertaking infringements on the freedoms of Americans would be diminished if it knew that any systematic invasion of people’s life, liberty, and property might meet armed resistance by both the victim and those in the surrounding areas who came to his aid because of the concern that their own liberty might be the next to be violated.

Though it may seem harsh and insensitive, when I read the advocates of gun control pointing to incidents of private acts of violence against children, I think to myself:

How many more tens of thousands of children were killed around the world in the last century by governments? And how many of those children, victims of government-armed violence, might have been saved if their families and neighbors had possessed the right to bear arms against political aggressors? How many children have been saved because their families have had weapons for self-defense against private violators of life and property? And how many could have been saved from private aggressors if more families had owned guns?

Guns and American Liberty

The argument that virtually all other “civilized” countries should neither prohibit nor severely restrict the ownership and the use of firearms in general—and handguns intimidate Americans. America has been a free and prosperous land precisely because of the fact that as a nation we have chosen to follow political and economic avenues different from those followed by other countries around the world.

As a result, in many areas of life we have remained freer.

As a people, we have swum against the tide of collectivism, socialism, and welfare statism to a greater degree, for the most part, than have our western European cousins. As a result, in many areas of life, we have remained freer, especially in our market activities, than they. The fact that other peoples in other lands chose to follow foolish paths leading to disastrous outcomes does not mean that we should follow in their footsteps.

America was born in revolt against the ideas of the “old world”: the politics of monarchy, the economics of mercantilism, and the culture of hereditary class and caste. America heralded the politics of representative, constitutional government, the economics of the free market, and the culture of individualism under equality before the law. It made America great.

If in more recent times there has been an “American disease,” it has been our all-too-willing receptivity to the European virus of political paternalism, welfare redistribution, economic regulation and planning, and the passive acceptance of government control over social affairs.

We need not and indeed should not fall victim to one more of the European ailments: the disarming of the people under the dangerous notion that the private citizenry cannot be trusted and should not be allowed to have the means of self-defense against potential private and political aggressors in society. Let us stand apart once more and not fall prey to the false idea that somehow our European cousins are more enlightened or advanced than we on the matters of gun ownership and control. They are not.

Instead let us remember and stay loyal to the sentiment of James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, who praised his fellow countrymen when he said, “Americans [have] the right and advantage of being armed—unlike citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

Let us remain worthy of Madison’s confidence in the American people and defend the Second Amendment of the Constitution upon which part of that confidence was based.

Reprinted from the Heartland Institute.

 

Republished with Permission – Source: FEE.org – 2nd Amendment – Tyranny